Wayne State College’s current renovation of Benthack Hall, home of counseling, education and the family and consumer sciences programs, aims to make an immediate impact on the region’s shortage of mental health practitioners.
The upcoming renovated facility will provide students with a learning environment that encourages a passionate approach to mental health care, according to a college media release.
The renovation, which will be complete in the summer of 2021, includes a state-of-the-art counseling training clinic for students to perfect their psychotherapeutic practices with clients.
This clinic aims to serve the surrounding communities’ needs regarding behavioral and mental health. The full-service training clinic will be supervised by licensed professional counselors serving people of all ages, families and individuals experiencing a variety of diagnoses and treatment needs.
The counseling department strives to become a leader in producing highly trained clinical providers to serve our rural community starting with the capabilities and functioning of this training facility.
“Though our graduate-level counseling department consists of three programs, the clinic space in Benthack has been specifically and uniquely designed with behavioral and mental health in mind,” said Dr. Nicholas Shudak, dean of the Wayne State School of Education and Behavioral Sciences. “This renovation is an intentional effort on the part of Wayne State to better position our programs, faculty and students to serve the needs of our immediate communities and those within our service region.”
Within the service region of the Northeast Nebraska Behavioral Health Network, eight of the 24 counties served have no behavioral health providers, and nine counties have three or fewer providers.
Spanning the spectrum of behavioral health providers, Northeast Nebraska has seen a 23% decrease in the overall number of providers, according to the release. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 25% increase in the number of mental health counselors who will be needed in the next 10 years.
“It’s incredibly meaningful to see our Wayne State College and local communities investing in our behavioral science students with the renovation of Benthack,” said Dr. Alison Boughn, assistant professor in the WSC School of Education and Behavioral Sciences. “Our goal is to continue to help increase the quality and expansion of behavioral health and mental health services across rural Nebraska, and that starts with the physical spaces for educational training.”
Wayne State’s human services degree program for undergraduates is housed in the college’s counseling department. Human services education provides an introduction to the helping fields and provides students with the foundational skills necessary to step into the workforce as professional support staff.
Wayne State’s programs require experiential learning in the form of an internship at a local agency to gain field experience and earn credit toward the degree.
“Our hope is to utilize the Benthack facility to train new human service professionals and graduate counselors to enhance their professional identities in their respective fields,” Boughn said. “In the future, we hope to be a fully functioning clinic that will serve our community members in rural Nebraska. We recognize that there is a shortage of providers in the field, specifically to clinical mental health, and are confident that we can work toward implementing the training clinic as a sustainable point of contact to serve the needs of our rural communities.”